Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Kemuning - Murraya paniculata, (Linn.) Jack

I never realized that this plant grows wild in Langkawi's rainforest until I read the write up on the Philippines' Department of Public Health's website on Murraya paniculata which they also called Kamuning. The phrase that struck me was " ..... the yellow wood which is greatly in demands for making canes. The wood is also used for kris-handle." I remember vividly now in my expedition to Pulau Langgun I heard the very same words coming out of Pak Long Bashah's mouth as we passed over the kemuning tree. Pak Long said " the kemuning wood is yellow in colour and is good for making tongkat and hulu keris (tongkat = walking stick = cane; hulu keris = kris-handle).

This is Pak Long Bashah on the day he mentioned about the Kemuning Tree on Pulau Langgun
He is indeed a load of information on trees. Sometime I wonder whether he has ever heard of I.H. Burkill or his book The Dictionary of Economic Products of the Malay Peninsula. I know I am the only one in possession of the book in Langkawi. Every trip we make into the rainforest is just like reading Burkill's book. The names the uses everything written in the book is exactly as what Pak Long would relate to me.

Kemuning is from the family of citron or Rutaceae. The Brits called it the Orange Jasamine. When I first came across this I thought now how did they come to call it the orange jasamine when I have never seen its flowers to be orange in colour. Until it occured to me that it is called thus probably because it is placed in the orang family and has flowers with the fragrance of jasamine !! Problem solved!!

Kemuning's fragrance indeed has the taint of jasamine in it and one can catch it early in the morning and late in the evening just as the sun is setting. These are the two times in the day that I spend time in my garden doing the gardening. As I pass around the plant's vicinity I can smell the fragrance of Kemuning alternating with kenanga near by. Both very refreshing and invigorating.

Now how do we use this tree apart from making tongkat and kris handles. It has the following properties:
Mildly bitter Warming
Analgesic Activates circulation
Astringent Tonic
Stomachic Digestive
Refrigerant Aromatic

On this basis it is beng used in the treatment of the following conditions:
Diarrhoea and dysentery
Mouth wash for tootache
Sprains and contusion
Rheumatism and boneaches
Poisonous snake bites


Lark said...

Keep up the good work.

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Argos said...

I am interested in the building of a Keris. I have read nice articles on Murraya paniculata.

But what does one do when Murraya paniculata is not available. Can you just use some of the other woods for the making of a Keris, or does Murraya paniculata has a sepcial meaning and is it irreplaceable?

Kind regards,